Summary: Considers the reality of Heaven - evidence of it, and why that affects the way we live now
(Show clip from BluefishTV – “Spiritual tots, Colonik’s got ‘em!”)
Even if they’re unsure of it, most people want to believe in Heaven, and most people have some concept of it.
TIME took a poll 10 years ago, and 81% of the people they surveyed said they believed in the existence of Heaven, where people lived forever with God after they die.
Still, there’s that other 19%...
Robert Ingersoll was an atheist. He was a famous anti-Christian propagandist and orator in the days after the Civil War. Once, in front of a large crowd, Ingersoll pulled out his pocket-watch and gave God 5 minutes. “Strike me dead, or be disproved,” he said. After all, didn’t the Bible record where God struck men dead for blasphemy? "Then let me do that now!" Holding his watch, he blasphemed God, then counted off the minutes. The crowd counted too, as one minute went by; then 2,3,4,5... When nothing happened, Ingersoll snapped his watch shut. "There! You see! There is no God or I would be dead!" When a Joseph Parker, a British preacher heard about it, he said, “And did the American gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of God in 5 minutes?"
Ingersoll was a friend of Phillips Brooks, the man who wrote “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” When Brooks became seriously ill, he requested that none of his friends come to visit him. But, when his friend Robert Ingersoll, the atheist, came to see him, he let him come in right away. Ingersoll told him, “I appreciate this very much. Especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.” Brooks said, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.”
Robert Ingersoll died at the age of 65, 1899. Notices of his death were printed in all the major newspapers of New England, and in every one, as part of the funeral notice, there was a single, very ironic, line: "There will be no music."
I’m confident, Robert Ingersoll is now a believer.
I’m going to keep reminding us – understanding about Heaven, and meditating on Heaven, will affect the way we live our entire lives!
The discussion of Heaven we’re engaging in this morning has to do with one of the important basics. The reality of Heaven has been challenged by people for centuries. I hope to present some helps for that. I feel challenged by the enormity of the task. But, if I completely fail at this, there’s still good news: one day, the question of the reality of Heaven is going to be settled for everyone.
Alfred North Whitehead, former Harvard professor - “Can you imagine anything more appallingly idiotic than the Christian idea of heaven?”
Whitehead is now a believer.
Bertrand Russell, was an atheist and a Nobel literature prize winner in 1950 - “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere; only triviality for a moment – then nothing.”
Russell is now a believer.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair - "There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground, the worms eat you."
“[Heaven is] a delusional dream of the unsophisticated minds of the ill-educated clergy.” Madalyn Murray O’Hair is now a believer.
Maybe you’re not as abrupt about it as past atheists, but maybe you or someone close to you struggles with the reality of Heaven. “It’s invisible. No one has ever seen it. I haven’t seen Heaven, so it can’t be real.” OK. Do you believe in the existence of your brain? You’ve never seen it. But you still think it exists, don’t you? So, that doesn’t need to prevent us from accepting the reality of Heaven or anything else we haven’t personally seen.
Every culture of man has traditionally had some concept of life after death. Right away, that should tell us something about the existence of Heaven – that at the very least, mankind, as a race, has some interest in it. And since we do, I want to affirm to you this morning, Heaven is real, and I want you to see several reasons for accepting that reality.
One evidence is by what we can know about…
1. The nature of God, creation, and man
Let’s break that down.
• the Nature of God
If we simply take God at His word in the Scriptures, then we understand that He’s a God of justice, holiness, perfection, and power. It’s not just Him choosing to be just and holy and perfect and powerful. It’s His very nature. He cannot deny Himself. That means He not only wants there to be justice and perfection, but that He’s able to bring it about. Everything about creation that isn’t as it should be today, God is able to fix, and until it is fixed, it doesn’t fit Who He is. It’s really not a question of if He’ll change it, but of when and where. He answers that for us too: